WikiLeak rocks Dominican Republic’s high court

Local – 21 July 2011, 8:08 AM

Santo Domingo.- A WikiLeaks cable reveals that Supreme Court (SJC) president  Jorge Subero revealed to U.S. ambassadors Hans Hertell and Roland Bullen, that SJC vice president Rafael Luciano Pichardo was apparently involved in corruption.

Newspaper Caribe said the local TV news station SIN provided the cable, which affirms that Subero told the diplomats that Pichardo was trying to alter the ruling in the US$2.5 billion Baninter bank fraud case and that Pichardo had received US$40,000.

Excerpts of the leaked cable Caribe acquired from SIN:

78252 ONFIDENTIAL SANTO DOMINGO 002941 Date of cable: September 13, 2006 (Translation from Spanish)

Summary. In a wide spectrum call recently done by ambassadors Hertell and Bullen (DCM) related to Jorge Subero Isa, president of the Supreme Court of Law), the latter confidentially described the plans for a future strengthening of the judicial sector, detailed the fight against judicial corruption and stressed some of  the most urgent topics on the reform that faces the Dominican Republic at the moment.

After the departure of the personnel pertaining to the Department of State and the USAID which had accompanied the ambassadors, Subero revealed to Hertell and to Bullen that the vice president of the SCJ, Rafael Luciano Pichardo, seems to be deeply involved in the official corruption and is possibly trying to subvert the trial which at present is carried out against the individuals implicated in the fraudulent collapse of the Intercontinental Bank (Baninter), in 2003. However, Subero suggested that the Dominican Government would not take any action against Pichardo. The embassy investigates if the revocation of Pichardo’s visa would be appropriate. End of the summary.

The good news

(U) Subero started the meeting directly attributing the rise in the Dominican economy (rate of growth of 9% of the GDP) to the improvements in the judicial sector carried out by the programs of the USAID.

He suggested that if it weren’t for the support of the Untied States government, the progress in the fight against the judicial corruption in the last nine years would have been little. His final conclusion was that the “moral assistance” provided by the United States is, in fact, more valuable than the monetary assistance, considering it an “incalculable value.”

The bad news

Although the meeting that followed maintained this perception, it revealed Subero’s Achilles heel, he wasn’t willing to directly confront corruption at the high levels of the Government.

The embassy received, without having requested it, illegal recordings that seem to form part of a campaign of disrepute against Pichardo, with the suggestion that others were trying to influence their votes in the Court. A partial transcription was apparently also given to newspaper Digital Clave.

Although Pichardo’s own recorded comments donot contain any signs of non ethical, illegal activity or judicial, the subsequent article of Clave Digital was sufficiently harmful for the embassy to consider prudent to request Subero’s opinion on the topic.

In response Subero noted that Pichardo had admitted to him, as well as to other judges of the SCJ, that he had accepted $40,000 dollars but didn’t mention anybody’s name, and that it hadn’t been in exchange for anything, explicitly or implicitly.

Subero also noted that two of Pichardo’s sons also were involved by accepting larges sums of money and that he knows that Pichardo asked the judge who headed the criminal trial against Baninter “to have certain flexibility” as far as the motions of the defense.

Subero also believes, but cannot prove it, that the defense lawyer for Baninter, who is also advisor to the President, Vinicio “Vincho” Castillo, is trying to orchestrate Subero’s replacement with Pichardo as head of the SCJ, in an attempt to improve the Court’s inclination towards the Baninter defendant  in appeal.

Drug link

On April 30, 2008 Pichardo’s son Rafael Alberto Luciano Corominas was arrested together with Juan José Martín Gómez, upon returning from Puerto Rico in a small plane, registry HI-831, piloted by Ovalles Tejada, from whom Customs agents seized US$580,000


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